Teaching photography is an act of passion, same as doing photography. You gotta throw yourself into it, because people are there to learn, and have given themselves a great gift–the time to do that learning. You have to return the gift by being a good teacher. So it’s kinda cool that I’m included in a group of wonderful, talented, shooters and educators in this current Photo District News article. Here’s a link to the PDN site.
I know it’s an accident of the alphabet, but it’s especially wonderful to be there, on the page, right next to Jay Maisel. I wrote a paper about Jay when I was in Photo-j school, calling him “the father of modern color photography,” which he is. He’s also a dear friend and mentor. And I’ve taken his workshop at the bank, so I can attest to how good a teacher he is, and how refreshingly blunt he is when assessing a picture on the screen. He handed me my ass more than once. Out there in the photography career thicket, amid the snares, traps, swamps and things that might eat you, lie treasures, unforeseen and unexpected, that make hacking your way through the aforementioned thicket year after year worth it. A friendship with someone like Jay is one of them. I’ve had the privilege of hanging with him, and teaching with him. I even coaxed him in front of the lens once.
I told him he had lost his ability to say “no pictures” long ago. So he sat for me. But when you see Jay through the viewfinder, time to make it fast, and bring your game. One SB-800, camera right, Lastolite Tri-grip diffuser. Done in about a minute or so. A favorite portrait of a dear friend.
Photogs are hard to shoot, right? They sit there in front of the camera, slyly observing and absorbing what you are doing. They know even before you do when you have the picture, or if you’ve gone off the rails. I was assigned to shoot Arnold Newman once. Talk about nervous. I had the notion of mimicking his light, by simply using the walls of his studio as bounce sources. Gulp.
Arnold was gracious to a fault, knowing full well how nervous this schmuck photog who just showed up at his legendary studio was. I got to know him a little bit, and he signed his amazing book, Americans, for me. He inscribed, “To Joe McNally, who has turned the tables on me, and quite nicely!” Geez…..that’s a keeper.
We also taught together a bit at the Eddie Adam’s workshop in upstate New York. It was an honor to do so. It’s an honor to teach. This business has a long and proud tradition of mentoring, and passing on young people. Happy to be a part of it….more tk….